“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor promote by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
~1 Thessalonians 1:3.
In October 1888, American-Swedish preacher Frederick Franson arrived in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. During his staying, he conducted a three-week Bible study program in Helsinki. During the time of training, Reverend Frederick and his colleagues were praying that the Lord gave a vision of sending them to Tibet. They formed an organization called SAM (Scandinavian Alliance Mission). As a result, in 1892, the first missionary group of seven women and three men came to India.
The first Finnish missionary, Ms. Sigrid Gahmberg, came to India in 1895 and went to place called Chunabhatti for mission work. In August 1896, another Finnish missionary Ms. Klara Hertz arrived in Darjeeling. Since then, a school has been opened since 1897, deeming it necessary to educate the local people (especially children) there.
In December 1898, four new missionaries (Mr. Carlo Waismaa and his wife Hanna Waismaa, Ms. Massinen, and Hilja Heiskanen) came to India. While on a missionary mission at Ghoom, Sigrid suffered from malaria and died in 1900. She was buried near the mission office at Ghoom.
In 1906, Ms. Klaara Hertz arrived in Lachen (Sikkim) from Finland and began mission work there. Meanwhile in 1908, Massinen became ill and died while she was intending to return Finland.
In 1909, Klaara and Elin Kronqvist returned to Lachen from Ghoom. Every morning and evening, locals (adult men and women), children and women who were learning knitting used to gather at Mission House to hear the gospel and singing. Shortly afterwards, three of them decided to accept Christ and get baptized. Six other girls who were learning sewing and knitting also get baptized. The mission work continued to increase steadily in Sikkim, Ghoom and Chunabhatti along with various social services.
Later in 1912, Bible training program was organized in Lachen. Forty-six participants from Sikkim and six from Europe participated in the training. At the same time Prince of Sikkim visited Lachen. After the prince visit, persecution has begun in Lachen region. After the year of 1919, missionaries were not allowed to live in Sikkim hence; they left Lachung and moved to the Ghoom. Meanwhile, after fourteen years of mission work in April 1920, Klaara Hertz died in Lachen. From 1920 to 1930, unabatedly evangelism and social work continued over the region. By that time more than thirty families had accepted Christ. For the first time, Thingley and Gompu Dozi, two local teachers of Ringhim (Sikkim), were ordained for the pastoral ministry.
At Ghoom, on August 2, 1930, three people were baptized amidst of protest by the relatives. In the meantime, book of gospels and Hymn Books were also translated into Tibetan language.
From the year of 1930 to 1950, there were no major obstacles to mission work in Buxadoars and Chunabhatti, but in Sikkim, the gates of the gospel were often closed as per the then king's proclamation. At the same time, World War II made it difficult for missionaries to travel from Finland.
In the year 1950, as per the treaty of the Government of India and Sikkim King (Maharaj), it became difficult for foreigners to live and work in Sikkim. From this year only, the route from Sikkim to Tibet was closed. Later in 1960, as per the gazette notification of Government of India, all religious organizations and bodies were to be registered in the name of local authorities. As a result, Himalayan Free Church was registered under West Bengal Society Registration Act in 1962 in lieu of Free Church of Finland Mission.
Thus from 1972 onwards, missionaries returned Finland after entrusting all the responsibilities and pending mission works to local believers and leaders of newly born Himalayan Free Church. Currently, HFCI has more than churches and fellowships within West Bengal and Sikkim.